Review of Attack on Al Quds hospital in Aleppo City

from Médecins Sans Frontières
Published on 30 Sep 2016

Executive summary

On 27 April 2016, amidst the Syrian government-led coalition’s offensive on East Aleppo, Basel Aslan (Al Quds) hospital was attacked and severely damaged by two airstrikes. According to interviews with staff present at Al Quds hospital during the attack, at exactly 9.37pm, a building across from the hospital, identified as Ain Jalout school, was struck by an airstrike. Following the first strike, Al Quds medical staff retrieved the wounded to transfer them to the hospital for medical care. Soon after, the Al Quds staff residence, located a few buildings down from the hospital, was hit by a second strike.

Witnesses said that minutes later, a third strike assaulted the entrance of the hospital’s emergency room. This strike killed and injured Al Quds medical staff ushering patients into the emergency room, including those wounded from the first strike. According to medical staff, five minutes later a fourth strike hit the hospital, strongly impacting the emergency room and destroying the two top floors. This second strike to the hospital cut the electricity. A doctor present in the emergency room stated that more patients were in the hospital than usual because of the number of casualties from the preceding strikes, as well as the reported five bombardments in East Aleppo earlier that day, which resulted in scores of wounded.

Quantifying the attack’s exact number of victims was hindered by the difficulty of recovering bodies from deep under the rubble caused by the attack. According to Al Quds management, as of 4 May the total death toll of the 27 April attack on Al Quds hospital was 55. The dead included 6 Al Quds staff, namely 1 pediatrician, 1 dentist, 2 nurses, 1 technician and 1 guard. Eight of the hospital staff were also seriously injured. The pediatrician and dentist killed were said to be among the last medical specialists left in East Aleppo after five years of war. Approximately 80 people were injured.

Al Quds re-opened 20 days after the attack, but not all services were activated and capacities were greatly limited given that (a) two operational floors were destroyed, (b) two specialist doctors and two nurses died and (c) significant medical equipment had been lost. Pediatric, cardiology and neurology services were suspended, as the hospital’s pediatrician was killed and essential medical equipment was destroyed. Also, the emergency room and lab, along with their vital supplies, were lost. The internal medicine, gynecology/obstetrics and general surgery departments were progressively restarted, but operating with great limitations.